We hadn’t planned to go here; it was a last minute decision as a result of us cutting our time short in the Mekong. I think we were all glad we did – it was nothing short of paradise. For once we were dropped basically in the middle of town, so we located a nearby ATM before heading to Starfish for a delicious lunch, and followed by the best (blind) massage I would receive in South East Asia. With all expenditure going to a great cause, this place is definitely worth a visit.
James successfully bartered with a tuk-tuk driver to get us a very cheap ride out to Otres Beach 2. My American friend Tracie had recommended we stay at Sea Garden (she had previously worked there) and thankfully we mentioned that we knew her, because even though they had no vacancy, they made room for us – and to our delight we were given what had to be the best bungalow on the entire beach (although one of us – James – would have to sleep on a mattress). After getting changed we headed down for a swim – the water was gloriously warm, and oh-so-shallow. A must do whilst in Sihanoukville is to swim at night-time – with the bioluminescent plankton lighting up every move. It pays to head down the beach a bit, away from the lights – so that you don’t confuse the bioluminescence with the lights coming from the beach.
It was hard to say no to the vendors approaching us on the beach; especially because their average age must have been about 12 years old. Summer and I were both persuaded to have manicures and pedicures, before I was convinced to have my legs threaded. After three, extremely painful hours later – my legs were hair-free, and I was (falsely) promised that I wouldn’t have to shave for the next five weeks.
- Shin – managed by Tracie’s friend Ben, this delectable Japanese restaurant was located right next to Sea Garden, and right on the beach front. Perfect for satisfying those longstanding sushi cravings!
- Nameless:– although I can’t remember the name, it was the place right next door to Sea Garden (one place to the right when walking along the beach). James usually opted for eggs (the most filling on the menu!) while Summer and I often frequented the muesli/fruit options. This place was outstanding on both counts.
- The Jungle Inn – despite being expressly advised not to eat here, we accidentally made the mistake of coming here for lunch. I was served cold rice twice, before I actually received hot rice – by which time my actual meal (beef and lots of ginger) had gone cold.
- Papa Pippo – Italian in Cambodia – it went down a treat. We had some delicious pizza and cocktails, participating in the local trivia night as “Kiwis Got Game”. Unfortunately we were more talk than walk, although it was a great night.
- Mushroom Point – this place was glorious. It was slightly more expensive, but the presentation of our food was just fantastic – and it was equally delicious. We had heard rumours that there was a high turnover of staff as they don’t get treated very well; however this certainly wasn’t reflected in the quality of the food.
Koh Ta Kiev
A short boat ride away from Otres Beach is Koh Ta Kiev, a remote little island that survives off the bare minimum – I couldn’t wait. We basically had to choose whether we wanted to visit the party island of Koh Rong, or this little gem, and I’m so pleased we opted for the latter.
We were to sleep in tree huts at Ten103 (US$20), where there was minimal electricity, and we were surrounded by water and jungle – I sincerely felt like I’d gone to heaven. We spent the afternoon snorkelling and lazing on the white sand, being extremely wary of the sea urchins – one British guy launched himself onto one – it certainly looked like a painful experience. There was a bar with a deck overlooking the water – from which we could order food and drink on a tab system. There was a cute little 9yo girl called Mimi, who took an immediate liking to Summer, as well as to the British guy’s son – who was of a similar age. We drunk, slept and ate the afternoon away – and I don’t think any of us could have been happier.
That night we got to climb up a rickety ladder into the tree hut; perched amongst the trees we could see the moon, stars and water from where we slept. Awakening with the natural light, I had the most delicious French toast for breakfast, before we caught the ferry back to the mainland. The trip back was entertaining; firstly we had to watch Mimi and her new British boyfriend go their separate ways – he bawled his eyes out almost the entire way home, it was so cute! Second, a flying fish jumped out of the water and would have landed on the boat (on me!) had it not been for the pole which it hit first. Naturally the Cambodians turned the boat around to look for this stunned/dead fish – but we had no luck and continued on our way.
Back on the mainland we enquired about a bus – next thing we knew we were on our way to Phnom Penh.